Death row inmate Julius Jones seeks execution stay
High-profile death row inmate Julius Jones on Wednesday asked an Oklahoma City federal judge for a temporary stay of his execution.
Jones is set to be executed Nov. 18.
Joining him in the emergency request were death row inmates John Marion Grant, Donald A. Grant and Gilbert Ray Postelle.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot scheduled a hearing on the request for Monday morning, just three days before the first execution is set to be carried out.
Jones claims that he is innocent, that the real killer framed him and that his trial was unfair. Millions signed a petition in his support after
ABC in 2018 aired the documentary series, “The Last Defense,” about his innocence claim.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in September set execution dates for seven inmates at the request of the new attorney general.
Jones and five of the inmates had been kicked out of a 2014 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the lethal injection procedure. The seventh inmate, Bigler Jobe Stouffer, was not part of the 2014 lawsuit.
The federal judge kicked Jones and other inmates out of the lawsuit because they had declined on a form “to propose an alternative method of carrying out their sentence of death.”
He has since let one inmate, James Allen Coddington, back in the lawsuit.
In their request for a stay, attorneys referred to Jones, John Grant, Donald Grant and Postelle as the “Religious Objector Plaintiffs.”
The attorneys told the judge the inmates “declined to proffer an alternative on moral, ethical, and/or religious grounds prohibiting them from being complicit in their own deaths in a way that they believe would be akin to suicide or assisting suicide.”
They argued Friot clearly misinterpreted U.S. Supreme Court rulings in kicking the inmates off the case.
They also told the judge that former Attorney General Mike Hunter agreed last year not to seek any executions while the legal challenge is pending in Oklahoma City federal court.
They asked the judge to require the new attorney general to keep to that promise in light of a decision Friday at the federal appeals court in Denver. They claim the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in effect reinstated Jones and others to the lawsuit.
A trial over the lawsuit is set to begin Feb. 28.
Friot plans to hear expert testimony at trial about a sedative used at the start of the execution procedure. Death row inmates complain that administering that drug, midazolam, will cause “constitutionally intolerable pain and suffering.”
Scheduled for execution first is John Grant, 60, an armed robber who was sentenced to death for fatally stabbing a prison kitchen worker in 1998.
His execution is set for Thursday. Scheduled for execution next is Jones.
He was sentenced to death for the 1999 fatal shooting of an Edmond insurance executive during a carjacking. Jurors chose the punishment at a 2002 trial.
The victim, Paul Howell, was gunned down in his parents’ driveway in Edmond after a back-to-school shopping trip with his daughters. Stolen was his 1997 Suburban.
A clemency hearing for Jones, 41, is set for Tuesday before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
The execution for Stouffer is set for Dec. 9. He is on death row for the 1985 fatal shooting of a Putnam City elementary school teacher.
Earlier this month, Stouffer, 79, filed his own legal challenge to the constitutionality of the lethal injection procedure. He also has asked Friot to stay his execution. His clemency hearing is set for Wednesday.
Fourth is Wade Greely Lay, 60, who was sentenced to death for killing a security guard during a botched bank robbery in 2004. His execution is set for Jan. 6.
Lay is representing himself and could file for a stay, too.
Fifth is Donald Grant, 45, who was sentenced to death for killing two workers at the LaQuinta Inn in Del City during a 2001 robbery. His execution is set for Jan. 27.
Sixth is Postelle, 35, who was convicted of murdering four people on Memorial Day 2005 outside a trailer in Del City. He was sentenced to death for two of the murders and to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the other two.
His execution is set for Feb. 17. The execution for Coddington is set for March 10. He was convicted of murdering a friend in Choctaw during a cocaine binge in 1997. The victim was 73.
Coddington, 49, is asking the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to strike his execution. The federal judge let him back in the lawsuit because of evidence he told his attorney his alternative method was the firing squad.
Oklahoma has not carried out an execution in more than six years.